by Le Hung Vong
HCM CITY — HCM City authorities on Monday discussed a proposal to set up an automatic system to collect toll from cars entering the downtown area, with many expressing scepticism.
|Traffic on Nguyen Hue Street in HCM City's District 1. — VNS Photo/Manh Linh
Truong Lam Danh, a member of the City People's Council, said road users may pay for the right to travel faster, but if the project failed to curb traffic jams, they would have "spent money on a quack doctor."
He wondered if the project would help prevent traffic congestion in inner areas since it would increase the number of motorbikes there by 13 per cent.
An official from the Department of Finance said these tollgates would have no impact on the city's socio-economic development, but would require equipment worth US$57 million.
People living in these areas would have to pay higher taxi fares and truck tariffs, possibly worsening inflationary pressure.
He claimed setting up tollgates would cause worse traffic jams than at present in the downtown area.
Nguyen Thanh Tai, a former deputy chairman of the municipal People's Committee, also warned authorities to carefully consider the project.
Current deputy chairman Nguyen Huu Tin ordered the Department of Transport to work with the Fatherland Front to gather public opinion over the fee collection project.
Lam Thieu Quan, president and CEO of Tien Phong Technologies Group (ITD) which has bid for the work, told the meeting the automatic system would help save VND6 trillion (US$288 million) currently being lost due to traffic jams and bring in VND1.2 trillion to the city's coffers annually.
ITD's studies showed that 110,000 to 150,000 vehicles enter downtown HCM City every day.
The toll could help reduce this number by 30-40 per cent, Quan had told Viet Nam News last October.
The toll would be collected by 35 electronic toll collection systems on streets leading to the city centre from a ring road running from Hoang Sa street along the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal through Nguyen Phuc Nguyen, February 3rd, Le Hong Phong, Ly Thai To, Nguyen Van Cu, and Ton Duc Thang Streets.
They will automatically collect fees from OBUs (On Board Units) installed in cars. Car owners can buy an OBU for VND800,000 or hire one.
Initially ITD proposes to collect VND30,000 from cars with fewer than seven seats and VND50,000 from larger vehicles, increasing them later to VND40,000 and VND70,000 during peak hours.
The toll will be payable between 6am and 8pm every day.
Besides curbing traffic congestion, the toll would also persuade residents to shift from private to public transport, Quan said.
"It is now time to limit the number of cars because many people are shifting from motorbikes to cars.
"If measures to limit the use of private cars are not imposed now, it will be too late".
ITD estimates that the VND1.2 trillion ($57 million) investment could be recouped in two years, but has proposed that it should be collected in five to 10 years.
Part of the revenues would go to ITD, and the rest to the city. — VNS